''If import prices (of oil) increase we cannot insulate the domestic consumer indefinitely,'' Dr Ahluwalia said in a CNN-IBN programme, 'Devil's Advocate.' Dr Ahluwalia was also hopeful that growth will not be impaired while the government makes an all out bid to bring down the prices. "Inflation will come down and growth will be protected," Dr Ahluwalia said and appealed to the public to exercise patience. ''The economy is doing extremely well. You always have to ask for patience when you are dealing with bigger problems,'' he said.
The eminent economist made it clear that the government will have to tap those who can afford to pay if international prices of crude oil continue to spiral, while protecting those who cannot.
Q: Is there a consensus in the Cabinet on this thinking? A: You know, raising prices, raising taxes, these are all difficult issues. Nobody decides these things in anticipation of hypothetical circumstances.
Q: Is that a yes or a no? A: The Cabinet's decision is to share the burden. That's a recognition that consumers have to bear some burden.
Q: And the Planning Commission's advice is that the burden must be shared by making those who can afford pay more? A: Oh absolutely. We have been completely consistent on that.
When Dr Ahluwalia was asked as to how the dream team of Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia had allowed the economy to get into this mess, he said that part of the problem was the constant emphasis on the dream team and the belief that there were dream solutions.
Whilst conceding that the economic waters had turned ''choppy'', he insisted the ship ''is steering pretty much in the direction it should.''